Authentic Indian Prawn Masala

Indian prawn masala recipe

The Spruce

Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 30 mins
Total: 40 mins
Servings: 4 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
433 Calories
27g Fat
19g Carbs
31g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 433
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 27g 34%
Saturated Fat 3g 14%
Cholesterol 254mg 85%
Sodium 1587mg 69%
Total Carbohydrate 19g 7%
Dietary Fiber 4g 13%
Total Sugars 6g
Protein 31g
Vitamin C 47mg 236%
Calcium 179mg 14%
Iron 2mg 13%
Potassium 694mg 15%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Prawn masala is simple yet delicious and, like many Indian dishes, it is packed with flavor. The recipe is quite easy, and most of the ingredients are those great spices we expect in Indian cuisine, so don't let the list scare you off.

The recipe involves two steps: a marinade and a masala gravy. The nice thing is that the prawns are marinated only as long as it takes to make the gravy, so the recipe doesn't take much time at all.

Serve the masala with chapatis (Indian flatbread), or plain or jeera (cumin) rice, and Kachumber salad.


  • 17 ounces large raw prawns, or shrimp, peeled, deveined, and washed

For the Marinade:

  • 1 tablespoon garlic paste

  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, plus more for garnish

  • 2 green chilies

  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

  • 1 tablespoon cooking oil (e.g., vegetable, canola, or sunflower)

For the Gravy:

  • 4 tablespoons cooking oil

  • 2 large onions, chopped

  • 2 tablespoons garlic paste

  • 1 tablespoon ginger paste

  • 2 large tomatoes, diced

  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander

  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin

  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric

  • 1/2 teaspoon red chili powder

  • 2 teaspoons garam masala

  • 1 dash salt, or to taste

  • 1/4 cup boiling water

Steps to Make It

Marinate the Prawns

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for marinade for Indian Prawn Masala
    The Spruce
  2. In a blender, combine all of the marinade ingredients—garlic paste, cilantro, chilies, lemon juice, and oil—and grind until it's a smooth paste.

    All ingredients added to a mixer and blended
    The Spruce
  3. In a large, non-metallic bowl, place the prawns and pour the marinade over them. Mix to coat all the prawns well.

    Prawns marinating in the mixture
    The Spruce
  4. Cover the bowl and store in the refrigerator to marinate while you make the gravy.

Prepare the Masala Gravy

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for marsala gravy
    The Spruce
  2. In a heavy-bottomed pan, heat 4 tablespoons of cooking oil over medium heat.

    Pan with oil.
    The Spruce
  3. When the cooking oil is hot, add the chopped onions. Sauté until the onions begin to turn a pale golden brown color.

    Onions added to pot
    The Spruce
  4. Add the garlic and ginger pastes and sauté for 1 minute.

    Add garlic and ginger to the pot
    The Spruce
  5. Add the tomatoes, all the powdered spices—coriander, cumin, turmeric, chili, and garam masala, and salt to taste. Mix well.

    Add tomatoes, spices, and powders to the pot
    The Spruce
  6. Sauté the masala (onion-tomato-spice mixture) until the oil begins to separate from it. This can take up to 10 minutes.

    Pan with ingredients sauteeing
    The Spruce
  7. When the masala begins to look ready, turn off the heat.

    Masala with combined ingredients removed from stove
    The Spruce
  8. Put the prepared masala into the food processor and grind into a smooth paste (do not add water). Remove and place in a separate container.

    Masala added to the food processor
    The Spruce

Finish the Dish

  1. Using the same frying pan as before, turn the heat on medium.

    Empty frying pan
    The Spruce
  2. Once it is hot, add the prawns and marinade and sauté until the prawns just begin to turn opaque.

    Add prawns and marinade to the pan
    The Spruce
  3. Add the prepared masala and boiling water. Stir well.

    Add masala and water to the prawns and marinade
    The Spruce
  4. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes and turn off the heat.

    Masala and prawns cooking in a pan
    The Spruce
  5. Garnish with chopped cilantro.

    Completed prawn and marsala dish with garnish.
    The Spruce


Recipe Variation

  • If you don't have prawns or shrimp, you can make this with skinless, boneless chicken pieces and it is just as delicious.